ASER 2019 report: ‘Early Years’ findings
Pan India more than 90% of children in the 4-8 age group are enrolled in some type of educational institution. This proportion increases with age, from 91.3% of all 4-year-olds to 99.5% of all 8-year-olds in sampled districts. But in the districts surveyed in Uttar Pradesh – Lucknow and Varanasi – indicates low enrolment patterns for 4-year-olds even though the proportion increases with age.
These are the findings of the ASER 2019 ‘Early Years’ released in New Delhi on Tuesday. The section of pre-school and school enrolment patterns indicates that only 66.9% of all 4-year-olds in Lucknow and 73.6% of all 4-year-olds in Varanasi are enrolled in an educational institution. This proportion increases to 99.4% of all 8-year-olds in both the districts.
In 2019, ASER has attempted to shine the spotlight on the early years, reporting on the schooling status as well as on a range of important developmental indicators for young children in the age group 4-8.
However, young children of the same age vary enormously in terms of where they are enrolled. For example, at age 5, 70% children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, but 21.6% are already enrolled in Std I. At age 6, 32.8% children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, while 46.4% are in Std I, and 18.7% are in Std II or higher.
In Varanasi, of all children at age 5, 67.1% are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, but 16.8% are already enrolled in Std I. At age 6, 40.6% children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, while 34.5% are in Std I and 22.3 % are in Std II or in higher classes.
In Lucknow, of all children age 5, 64.9% children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, but 19.2% are already enrolled in Std I. At age 6, 47.5% children are in anganwadis or pre-primary classes, while 31.6% are in Std I and 16.1 % are in Std II or in higher classes. Boys and girls have different enrolment patterns even among these young children, with a higher proportion of girls enrolled in government institutions and a higher proportion of boys in private institutions.
These differences grow larger as children get older. For example, among 4- and 5-year-old children, 56.8% girls and 50.4% boys are enrolled in government pre-schools or schools, while 43.2% girls and 49.6% boys are enrolled in private pre-schools or schools. For 6- to 8-year-olds, 61.1% of all girls versus 52.1% of all boys in this age group are going to a government institution.
This is the fourteenth annual report. Every year since 2005, ASER has reported on the schooling status and the ability to do basic reading and arithmetic tasks for children in the 5-16 age group in rural India. After ten years of producing an annual report, in 2016, ASER switched to an alternate-year cycle where this ‘basic’ ASER is conducted every other year (2016, 2018, and next in 2020); and in alternate years ASER focuses on a different aspect of children’s schooling and learning. In 2017, ASER ‘Beyond Basics’ focused on the abilities, experiences, and aspirations of youth in the 14-18 age group.
ASER 2019 ‘Early Years’ was designed to begin to fill these gaps. Conducted in 26 districts across 24 states in India, the survey covered a total of 1,514 villages, 30,425 households, and 36,930 children in the age group of 4-8 years. Sampled children’s enrolment status in pre-school or school was collected. Children did a variety of cognitive, early language, and early numeracy tasks; and activities to assess children’s social and emotional development were also undertaken. All tasks were done one-on-one with children in their homes.